This is a friendly reminder that if you want to make a dress for Africa and send it to me to send to Africa to do so! I need them by June 30 so I can hand them over July 1 to be sent to Africa. This is a picture of one I made from stuff sent from blog reader Robin. Isn't it so cute!
I posted this on my parenting blog per request and thought it was a good post for the readers of this blog, too. So, here it is!
"Are most toys stored in your children's bedrooms or in a more common space like the family room or a playroom?"
In my ideal world, there would be a toy room where most toys were located. Now, for me this 'ideal' isn't high enough to trump other ideals. We have a 6 bedroom house. Each child has their own room. My husband and I have a room. I have a craft room. And we have an office/guest room. So, if we had a 7th bedroom, it would be a toy room. But we don't...
So, toys are stored bedrooms.
We also have some toys in various other locations. We have some toys in my craft room for McKenna's blanket time. We have a small tote of toys in our family room closet that we can pull out for the family room. We have some fridge toys in the kitchen.
We also have a family room closet with puzzles, games, coloring stuff, etc.
"What about toys that are shared (like a play kitchen or basic blocks)?"
If we had designed the space in this house, there would be a 7thbedroom and it would be a toy room. Brayden's room is ridiculously large. I mean, really big. His room has most of the toys we own in it.
Each girl has some toys in her room. The "baby" toys are in McKenna's room. Kaitlyn has some of her favorite toys and the most "girly" toys in her room. But everything else is in Brayden's room. He has toys in there that are "his," "Kaitlyn's," and "McKenna's"--but I prefer that everyone pretty much think of all toys as everyone's. Anyway, not the point. 85-90% of the toys we own are in Brayden's room.
This actually works out nicely. Brayden and Kaitlyn both typically have independent playtime in Brayden's room (not at the same time). It is nice to have most of the toys in one location for that purpose. It is also nice because the girls' rooms are in a separate part of the house. It is hard to explain exactly, but I can keep that part quiet and people out of it for nap times.
Brayden's room is closer to the main living space. The kids can play and play even with someone napping in the sleeping part of the house.
It is also nice because it keeps most toys in one location. That makes clean-up easier.
Speaking of toys...how do you handle toy storage in your home?
The "where" you store your toys is going to be quite unique to your house layout, number of rooms, and number of children. But storage ideas can be applied no matter where the exact location of your toys. Here are some storage solutions I love, complete with pictures of my stuff:
I think this is fairly well-known and often used. A bookcase is a great place to store books :). There are lots of styles available. This bookcase above is a traditional type. We got it at an antique shop.
This one (above) is a more contemporary look. Don't mind it--it is new and not decorated officially yet. This is from IKEA.
In most cases, we aren't big child-proofers here, but we do bolt our bookcases to the wall.
You could also use bookcases to store toys on. Kaitlyn has a bookcase in her room with dolls, her diaper bag, and her Fisher Price House.
You can also put baskets on shelves to hold things. On my IKEA bookshelf, I plan to get a couple of the boxes that fit in the cubes to put hats, gloves, and sunglasses in.
Here are two miniature crates. The hold some of McKenna's toys. I keep this in the family room storage closet. When she is in the family room and needs toys to play with, we just pull this out.
These aren't toys, but children items. On my IKEA bookshelf, I currently have a few baskets holding sunglasses and hats and gloves, etc. The baskets are getting too small, hence the move to the boxes made specifically for the bookcase. You can see lots of Baskets For Storage on Amazon, as well as many other baskets.
We use lots and lots of totes around here. The other day, my neighbor was going on and on to her sister about how organized I am and how she needs to come see my house so she can see how organized I am. Her sister asked if being organized required lots of totes. I had to laugh.
The tote thing is all my husband. He LOVES totes. He wants a tote for everything. When we first got married, I consented to some totes, but dragged my feet because it can be expensive to own so many totes! But over the years, I have seen the value. You can use totes in many ways.
With totes, you can divide things up into specific categories. Here we have our crayons, colored pencils, markers, etc. in one tote, and our Play Doh in another. When the kids want to play Play Doh, we get the tote out. It is one simple thing to carry and it keeps things organized on the shelf.
Here we have our Wii stuff in a tote. We keep the lid off for easy access, but it is much easier to keep these items together and clean while they are in the tote than if they were just on the shelf. You could accomplish the same thing with a basket.
Here, we have a larger tote holding all of our dress clothes. We might do a cute trunk someday, but we already had this tote.
We have a small tote with a handle on the lid that holds small baby toys. It is handy for taking to relative's homes, camping, traveling, or even just around the house.
We have totes dedicated to categories of toys. Kaitlyn has a tote for her ponies. Brayden has a tote for his cars and trucks. We also store clothes that are too small in totes. They stay clean, dry, and bug free.
Drawers are another great solution to toy storage needs. In general, I don't like drawers for toys as much as totes because they are not as easy to move around as the tote. However, there are situations where they are helpful.
This shows our drawers for our kitchen. It holds dishes and food.
You can also do mini drawers that would sit on a shelf, counter, dresser, etc.
In our previous home, the owners before us had remodeled this room pictured below. It had dormers, but they took the dormers out. They then put cupboards along the bottom edge. I loved this for toy storage. It was a great use of that space.
I am a macro cleaner, which means I need the visible area to be clean. I also like my drawers and cupboards organized, but if I can see stuff, it isn't clean to me. For that reason, a toy organizer with bins wouldn't work super-well for me, but some people love them. I can see that they could make for easy clean up with little ones.
When we moved into our current home, I wanted a cabinet in Brayden's room for toy storage. A toy box could work, but then you just have a ton of toys piled on top of each other. To get a toy out on the bottom, all of the toys must come out.
Kidcraft makes a darling storage bench that could work well, and would be a good solution to the toy box toys all on top of each other (actually, I want one similar to this in black in my entry way. Then we could put our shoes in there. Or, Kaitlyn has her stuffed animals in a tote at the foot of her bed. It isn't very cute out in the open like that...hmm...):
Anyway, I needed cabinet solutions. Luckily, we had this already. This cabinet has served many purposes for us. We used it in a bathroom in a rental that had little bathroom storage. We used it in our kitchen in our previous home as a pantry. Now it is in Brayden's room as major toy storage. I have one similar in my craft room. These things hold a lot of stuff.
Another great thing about cabinets is it is an easy way to rotate toys. If you leave them closed, you child is likely to not think about the toys in there. I always just opened cabinets I wanted the kids to play with, and they did.
Under The Bed
Don't forget to utilize available space under beds. Under Brayden's bed, we have totes with toys in them. Kaitlyn's bed is a toddler bed, so it doesn't really fit anything under there. Back when she wore diapers, we put extra diapers and wipes under it. You can fit all sorts of things under cribs, too. And don't forget your own bed. Under our bed, I fold up and store my blanket. I sleep with an extra quilt because I get cold and my husband gets hot. Back to the macro cleaner, I don't like a blanket on my bed, so I put it under.
We have never had satellite until recently. Our current home can't get local channels reliably, so we ended up getting a satellite, so I now have HGTV. I love to watch House Hunters. As I do, I am often shocked by the reactions to closets--especially in homes on the East coast. There will be one rod in a huge closet and people comment on what good space it is.
My husband and I are space utilizers. Every house we have ever lived in, we have optimized the space in each closet in the house. We get every inch of storage out of it we can. He is an actual rocket scientist, so he engineers everything perfectly. If neither you nor your husband have that capability, I would find someone who you can pay to do it for you! Find someone good. Closets are space meant to store things, why not get every inch out of it you can?
This is Brayden's closet. It just had a rod in it with a shelf above. We added the second shelf in this picture to more easily store blankets, sheets, and quilts without them all falling over whenever you got one down.
This is also in Brayden's closet. Can you believe none of these shelves where here? We added those for great toy storage. We also added more shelves on the other side of the closet for shoes and clothes.
This is our family room closet. This was literally a little tiny room with zero shelves. Zero! There are shelves behind the door, also. We can fit so much in this closet now.
We have a train table we found at a garage sale. It has drawers under it--and they are so worth it. You can store all of your train stuff in them. There are also "activity tables" sold by companies like Melissa & Doug for things other than trains.
I have small children. These children are not really capable of using hangers yet. Nor can they even reach the hangers in the coat closet. Therefore, I am either destined to pick up coats repeatedly for several more years of my life, or I needed to find a solution. Coat hooks. Yes! Coat hooks.
Above: We mounted a wall-mount coat hook rack. This holds coats and snow pants. It can also hold jackets and sun hats in the summer months.
Above: This is the inside of the door to my coat closet. We bought five three-pronged coat and hat hooks (see photo below) and mounted them to the inside of the door. Each person in our family has a hook for coats, hats, purses, backpacks, etc. I love this. Now my children can put their own coats up.
It can be tricky to store your toys outside. You want them safe and dry. We found this Rubbermaid Deck box at Home Depot and thought it would be perfect. We liked it so much, we bought a second, and our neighbors bought one of their own.
So there you have it. There are my toy storage ideas. Please share any toy storage solutions you love!